Connecting, Combining, and Collaborating Learning
November 2007

Connecting, Combining, and Collaborating Learning

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Scriptovia.com is a next generation Web 2.0 networking site that allows users to share, collaborate, and learn more efficiently in a virtual environment. Users interact collectively by posting their own school work to be critiqued and used as resources by other students. Members can also interact by reading and critiquing posted work as a source of learning and inspiration. 

Self-referenced as the “YouTube” of academic papers, Scriptovia.com hopes to find its place in the Internet community among giants such as Facebook and YouTube by allowing for hundreds and thousands of user-generated content to continuously be available to students taking similar courses all over the world.  All paper uploads to the website are converted to html, indexed, and made available to the wider audience through search engines such as Google and Yahoo. 

This document conversion allows Scriptovia.com to attract its primary audience, English speaking high school students, who are referred by search engines and drawn into the site to read specific paper topics. The hope is that these users become regular members by seeing the benefits of Scriptovia.com's emphasis on learning and collaboration as important skills to develop in an increasingly globalised and technological society. Collaboration is encouraged through the use of member profiles, and message, comment and ranking features, among other tools available. 

Collaboration is an important feature for the website.  Scriptovia describes learning as “all about making connections, and building on what others have discovered or learned.”  Along these lines, Scriptovia hopes that with access to its online resources and network of users, regular members can practice working together, develop useful contacts and supporters, share knowledge with others, “combine existing ideas in new ways”, and “look at old information from fresh perspectives”.  Scriptovia, however, draws a fine line between collaboration and plagiarism.

Scriptovia on Plagiarism

A major concern for the website is plagiarism, which is strictly prohibited.   Plagiarism is a concern that is hardly limited to Scriptovia.com and its user-generated and reviewed content. Plagiarism has been a concern ever since students were assigned schoolwork and schools developed an honor system. While Scriptovia puts thousands of resources at the hands of millions of students, some of whom May be unscrupulous users, technology has made it easier to catch plagiarists.

In many ways, Scriptovia's learning community is also geared toward educating the populace about plagiarism.  Scriptovia devotes an entire web page as part of its discourse on plagiarism, and it is mostly student's own responsibility to make sure that they utilize their resources responsibly.  Although cheating has always existed, the advent of new technology makes it easier to catch those who cheat. Questionable papers can be investigated by concerned teachers through the same search engines that students use.  Additionally, Scriptovia.com works with all the major anti-plagiarism services, will ban users reported by teachers to be plagiarizing, and utilizes moderators to help oversee the web community.

Scriptovia's roots
Scriptovia.com came about through Aseem Badshah, 18, a rising sophomore at the University of Washington who on the surface seems to be a regular college student.  Badshah, however, is also the founder, president, and driving force behind Scriptovia.com.  Perhaps most remarkable is how Badshah, while still only a teenager, has been able to dream up the concept of a revolutionary educational resource such as Scriptovia.com where others have not. 

When asked, Badshah reveals that the concept of Scriptovia was born during a reflection on his experiences as a junior in high school. In an interview, Badshah stated pointedly that “as a junior in high school it was pretty apparent that what is happening in our schools are not really relevant to what students are doing.  The goal of the site is to bring students out of isolation, where there are thousands of students trying to do the same thing. With Scriptovia, students can build on top of each other, have a conversation, and practice skills important to the 21st Century including collaboration and communication.”

With that in mind, Scriptovia.com has come about to help students access previously decentralised and inaccessible resources from fellow students online in a positive, cost-effective, and meaningful way. Scriptovia.com is free for its users, and unabashedly promotes lifestyle aspects that are universally important, especially in India, which include collaboration, access to information, and the acquisition of knowledge.
 
Scriptovia's relationship with India
e-Learning is an increasingly important force in Indian IT, and has been continuously featured in this publication. What Scriptovia.com has to offer that most other firms have neglected are its free features that include most of the capabilities found on social networking and other Web 2.0 sites, but with an emphasis on education, collaboration and learning. These features include document viewing, sharing, member profiles, Facebook integration, document tagging, categorisation, messaging, notifications, and rankings and awards, to name a few. 

Students benefit with collaborative and academic resources that help them excel academically. Users can view other similar essays to see how they are structured, get referred to useful resources, brainstorm topic ideas, find study guides and compare data.  Students who upload documents receive extra recognition from the public for their work through rankings, referrals, and rewards. Their documents also get additional feedback from members at large, useful for papers which could be spruced up before being turned in or just to extend the learning experience beyond what the teachers provide. 

In addition to providing these services to India, India serves as a vital market to Scriptovia because India is an English speaking country, a leader in information technology, and it is well known that education is an important aspect of Indian culture.  Indians are increasingly thinking globally, and India will help Scriptovia encapsulate the global culture and give its users the invaluable globally connected learning experience they seek. Scriptovia ultimately seeks to empower students, both within India and throughout the world.

What Scriptovia.com has to offer that most others have neglected are its free features that include most of the capabilities found on social networking and other Web 2.0 sites, but with an emphasis on education, collaboration and learning

Helping the educational landscape to evolve

It is an unfortunate fact that most classrooms haven't changed much over the years. In addition, many classes can not afford to constantly update their textbooks and learning material. In this manner, poorer schools are disadvantaged over those who can afford updated material. Furthermore, schools whose classroom materials haven't changed much since the technological breakthrough of the chalkboard are disadvantaged over schools that are kept up-to-date with technological progress. Top schools, not to mention top universities and corporations, are kept high performing through their emphasis in being up-to-date with the latest learning tools and through their collaboration with people and programs around the world.

But not everyone can afford to buy the latest computer programmes, hire tutors, and take other measures to stay up-to-date with what is available to increase student productivity. That is why the conception of a free-to-use web 2.0 academic networking site is so important for students around the world. In addition to providing a place where students can access learning material, papers, and collaborate with top students from around the world, Scriptovia.com helps students embrace 21st Century Internet technology where many current professionals already network, communicate, and conduct business online. Scriptovia is a cheap, nay; Scriptovia.com is a free way for students to increase their educational boundaries and allow their learning tools to evolve with the times.

Not only do students benefit by using Scriptovia, but on the other side of the equation students benefit by contributing their academic paperwork to Scriptovia as well.  For example, take the student who has spent hours on a detailed paper titled Scarlet Letter, which is a real paper on Scriptovia. In this paper, “Hawthorne uses a stark contrast between his portrayals of Hester and Dimmesdale to better solidify his indictment of extreme religious views.” Ordinarily, the most thoughtful academic paper will receive at most 20 minutes of attention from a teacher. By posting a meaningful essay online, students will feel better about helping others (why do people spend so much time editing Wikipedia if not for contributing to the general knowledge?), but they will get the personal benefit of recognition, high rankings in a global community, perhaps a few awards, and potentially some detailed feedback that will help them become better writers in the future. As the famous saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

One of a kind

Ultimately, most current related Web 2.0 networking websites are building networks for social rather than professional and academically productive reasons.  Scriptovia, unlike many of these similar websites, will help build networks for these professional and academic purposes. Members who upload papers will collaborate with those users looking for ideas and receive the benefit of personal critiques, suggestions, rankings, and recognition for simply writing a useful paper. Other users who are looking for ideas and a source of inspiration can come to Scriptovia.com and sort through documents by subject matter and other search features. Users can continuously message and communicate with each other in order to further exchange ideas and inspiration. Its major draw will continue to be its content (academic papers authored by students), which is unavailable anywhere else.

Most significantly, Scriptovia.com represents a shift in websites by meshing social networking with information sharing. Communication and collaboration are growing to become ever-more important and necessary skills in a rapidly integrating global economy. Scriptovia.com offers a breath of fresh air in offering services to students that fulfill both their needs to complete and develop their schoolwork and pursuit of greater learning, and yet also caters to their interests in interacting with and learning from their peers on a global scale.   

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